Leave the Leaves!

Autumn Leaves Are Falling.


“Leave” Them on Your Lawn for a Healthy Yard & Clean Water!


Autumn leaves are starting to fall and now is a good time to consider alternatives to dumping them in the street for pick-up. Even though your community may offer this service, you might want to consider the option of recycling those leaves on your own property, which is after all, Mother Nature’s method of recycling. (Little elves are not out in the forests raking and bagging leaves.) Recycling leaves on your lawn will also keep them out of the storm drains and away from our surface waters where they would only add nutrients and encourage algae blooms.


It takes a little bit of time, but eventually, all of the leaves are transformed by worms, bacteria, and other soil organisms into rich humus, which will continue to feed trees, shrubs, and other plants. Your yard will benefit from this natural process for years to come.


Trees on your property draw nutrients and minerals from the soil, converting them into new leaves and branches. When you rake up those leaves, you interfere with the natural cycle by which nutrients are returned to the soil. After a number of years, the soil will lose its fertility and ultimately affect the health of all the plants that you are trying to grow. Spreading costly fertilizers on your lawn may restore some nutrients, but not all of the vital minerals and organic matter needed for healthy, vigorous plants. On the other hand, leaves contain all of the nutrients and micronutrients that your lawn needs. So you need to get your leaves back into your soil somehow, and the best way to do that is to use your lawnmower.


For many years now, almost all new lawnmowers have been marketed as mulching mowers. After decades of bagging clippings, a majority of homeowners have learned that it is best to “grasscycle” their lawn clippings when they mow. Clippings left in place decompose quickly and provide nutrients to keep the lawn healthy. “Grasscycling” clippings also keeps them out of the storm drains and surface waters, where they can also become a culprit along with the leaves, in depositing excess nutrients during rainstorm runoff. Your lawnmower can do double-duty as a leaf mulcher as well. Mower blades can easily shred whole leaves into small pieces, approximately one-tenth of their original size. Your huge bounty of leaves will disappear into a thin layer of small particles which are easily digested by worms, bacteria, and other tiny soil organisms. In fact, a healthy earthworm population is capable of dragging a one-inch layer of organic matter down into the underground burrows in just a few months. Unseen by human eyes, they are diligently loosening and enriching your soil, and feeding the roots of your lawn for free. (Their ability to alter the leaf litter so efficiently is the reason that these non-native worms can cause so much damage to a forest floor ecology, and should never be intentionally released near the forest.)


Begin the work of leaf-mulching by setting the mower to a normal three-inch height. Remove bagging attachments and block off the chute on a rear-discharge machine. Run your mower over the lawn while walking slowly, giving the mower blades plenty of time to shred up the leaves. Please note that mower-mulching works best when leaves are relatively dry and are no more than one inch deep, so try and start mulching when leaves are just starting to fall. If your mower has a side discharge chute, you will probably want to begin on the outside perimeter of your lawn, blowing your chopped leaves onto unmowed areas, and continue mowing inward. This will keep the leaf particles on the lawn and even allow your mower to mow over them a few more times. If your first pass over the lawn has left a significant quantity of whole leaves, go back over the leaves while mowing at a right angle to the first cut. Leaves take more work than grass, especially if they are somewhat damp.


Shredded leaves may be used for other healthy additions to your landscape. You can apply the leaves as mulch two to four inches thick under your trees and shrubs, being careful to keep the shredded material away from the tree trunk and root crown. The leaves can also be applied to planting beds like perennial beds and herb gardens. A two to three inch mulch layer will help maintain a uniform soil temperature all winter and protect tender root systems. The mulch blanket will also prevent frost upheaval caused by frequent thawing and refreezing, which is especially damaging to bulbs, tuberous flowers, and some less hardy perennials. The leaf mulch will also feed your plants by recycling nutrients, conserving soil moisture during dry spells, and prevent the emergence of weeds. Avoid applying mulch until after the first hard freeze.


You can also add your shredded leaves to a compost pile or bin. The smaller leaf particles decompose in about 75 per-cent of the time required by whole leaves and you will be able to add a large quantity of whole leaves which will give you a lot of mulch to use if you have a property with many mature trees. If you are still cutting some grass blades as you run over the leaves, you are probably creating the perfect combination ofmaterials to establish an effective, fast-working compost pile which will reward you with nutrient-rich compost ready for use in the spring.


Mulching leaves into your lawn is just the first step toward a naturally healthy lawn. You can aerate your lawn with a core-aerating machine available for rent, or you can hire a lawn care service for liquid aeration. Either way, aerating works well, especially on compacted soils, making spaces for air and water to infiltrate, and making room for organic matter to filter deeper into subsoils and root zones.


You should also test your soil to see what nutrients it needs, if any, and if your soil needs to be limed to adjust the Ph. Since autumn is the best time to fertilize, you can use your soil-test results to determine fertilizer needs. If you need to fertilize, you should use organic, slow-release fertilizer, preferably animal manure, to feed the soil and your lawn’s roots all winter long.


If you choose to recycle your leaves along with grass clippings, you will protect your landscape from the ravages of winter and you can look forward to spring by creating a healthy environment for spring planting. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing that your have had a positive impact, now and in the future, on the water quality of our streams and lakes in Northeast Ohio.


References:
Montgomery County, Maryland, Department of Environmental Protection
Summit Soil & Water Conservation District

Rain Garden Kit Giveaway

Want to grow your own Rain Garden?

Rain Garden

On Saturday October 23, 2021, Akron Waterways Renewed! will be hosting a rain garden giveaway for the citizens of Akron in participation of Stormwater Awareness Week, October 17-23, 2021. The drive-up event will take place on the last day of Stormwater Awareness Week from 12:00pm to 2:00pm in the parking lot at Patterson Park at 800 Patterson Ave. Akron, OH 44310.

 The free rain garden kit includes a watering can, a pack of native seeds with information about the included varieties, a hand shovel, gloves, instructions on how to set up your rain garden, and seed starter trays. Akron residents will also have the opportunity to meet Eco, AWR!’s mascot.

The giveaway is a collaboration with local organizations, including Keep Akron Beautiful and Summit Soil & Water Conservation, in an effort to educate the public about the slow and soak method of reducing rainwater, absorbing and filtering the amount of water that reaches the sewer system, and ultimately, the Cuyahoga and Little Cuyahoga rivers. Stormwater can be great for lawns and gardens; however, it can wreak havoc on rivers and streams. 

Akron Waterways Renewed! is encouraging all Akron area residents to participate in Stormwater Awareness Week by picking up a rain garden kit at the giveaway, in addition to:

  • Planting native flowers and shrubs with deep root systems to soak up rainwater and provide food for bee and butterfly populations
  • Picking up litter in your neighborhood or at your local park
  • Checking the weather report before applying fertilizer to your lawn or any oil or chemicals to driveways and sidewalks
  • Installing a rain barrel to store rainwater for later use
  • Taking care to never flush anything hazardous, such as grease, pet waste, chemicals, medications, or personal hygiene products
  • Encourage and educate friends and family to participate 

To learn more about Stormwater Awareness Week: Stormwater Awareness Week - Franklin County Public Health (myfcph.org)

To learn more about Rain Gardens: BuildRainGarden.pdf (summitoh.net)

To participate in a free class: Online Master Rain Gardener Certification | Washtenaw County, MI

To sign up to pick-up your free kit please register here: AWR! Rain Garden Kit Giveaway Tickets, Sat, Oct 23, 2021 at 12:00 PM | Eventbrite

Cuyahoga River

The Cuyahoga River

The Cuyahoga River is known as the Burning River, Crooked River, and a National Heritage River because of its flaming past. The fire of 1969, on the Cuyahoga River, that propelled a national environmental movement and improved our nation’s waterways and water quality standards, is a historical fact known throughout our country. The Cuyahoga River plays a large part in our community, and we wanted to create a weekly series to show our river some appreciation. These facts are divided into three categories such as historical, geographical, and fun facts. We want this weekly series to shed some light on the fun facts you may not have known. Join AWR throughout this Cuyahoga River series and learn more about the river with a burning past! To follow along please make sure you’re following us on social media!

 Cuyahoga River

Cooking Clean-up for Fats, Oils, and Grease

It is the day before Thanksgiving, and you are all prepared to start cooking away… but have you thought about the clean up process?

 

Pouring fats, oils, and grease (FOG) down the drain causes plumbing issues including build up in the pipes, clogging, and basement backups. These issues are also seen at the Water Reclamation Facility and in sewer pipes around the city from improper disposal of FOG.

Whether you are frying your turkey or roasting in the oven, every household should have a plan to dispose of the fats, oils, and grease from cooking a delicious Thanksgiving meal. We contacted the ReWorks Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center (HHWRC), the solid waste management authority for all of Summit County, to find the best options for reusing or recycling of cooking oil.

All of Summit County residents can bring cooking oil to the center for proper disposal, free of charge. The HHWRC is open to all residents (no businesses) and collects hundreds of gallons of cooking oil every season. When disposing at HHWRC, oil must be stored in clearly marked plastic or steel containers no larger than 5 gallons and no more than 15 gallons can be dropped off per vehicle.

Another disposal option is letting the oil cool, pouring it into a sealable container, allowing it to solidify, and placing that container into a plastic bag before disposing in the trash. Adding paper towels, shredded paper, or paper napkins to the container will help with the solidifying process of the oil. As a reminder, cooking oil should never be placed in curbside recycling bins.

Instead of disposal, some choose to strain and re-use the oil for frying other foods. Let the oil cool to a safe temperature and use a utensil to remove any large pieces from cooking. Place a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth over the container used to store the oil in and begin to pour carefully in case of more large pieces at the bottom of the fryer. Store the oil in a cool, dry location.

 

Find the seasonal hours of ReWorks Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center at https://www.summitreworks.com/243/Hours.

Blog post written by HHWRC: https://www.summitreworks.com/blog.aspx?iid=21

Dispose Of Fog Properly

Is Your Rain Barrel Ready for the Freezing Temps?

Winterize Your Rain Barrel

 

Is Your Rain Barrel Ready for the Freezing Temps?

As we get closer to snow fall and colder temperatures, it is important to take time for winterizing your rain barrel. This will keep the life of your barrel lasting longer and protect even the sturdiest of plastic from getting brittle or expanding if water freezes inside. Winterizing your rain barrel is an easy process to save the barrel and other hardware from being replaced due to damage from the elements.

The steps below will make your rain barrel winter-ready before the temperatures begin to drop.

  • Drain all water from the rain barrel and leave the spigot open.

This prevents the water from freezing and cracking the plastic. The spigot staying open ensures that no moisture will remain and break the water seal.

  • Remove the hoses and rain spout diverter then detach barrel from gutter/downspout.

Hoses split easily in cold temperatures and should be stored indoors. If you have a rain spout diverter, replace it with a flexible extension to redirect the downspout away from the house.

  • Clean the barrel by removing debris and filtering the screen.

Some barrels have a mesh or filter inside to collect debris. Make sure this is cleaned before storing indoors or turning barrel upside down. This step will prevent mold or other fungus from growing inside the barrel.

  • Store barrel upside-down in a garage or shed, or outside in a sheltered/covered area.

Storing the rain barrel inside can protect against accidental water accumulation through the colder months. If storing outside, keep it upside down to prevent water accumulation and cover with a tarp to help protect from elements. Plastic rain barrels can get brittle in the cold so storing indoors is the best option. 

Once all steps are completed, the rain barrel will be safe through the winter months and the life of the barrel will be extended that much longer. Each year it is important to clean your barrel from built up debris but taking the time to winterize is just as important! 

 

 

When it rains look to a drain

When it rains look to a drain

A drain is a common term used when there is a flow of water running down either with water or with liquid waste. In terms of draining storm wastewater, there are various types of drainage systems. For residential areas, there are four types of drainage systems, and they are surface, subsurface, slope, and downspout/gutters. For commercial roof drainage systems, there are also four types, but two of them crossover to residential areas. They are scuppers, internal drains, downspouts, and gutters. There are artificial and natural drainage systems in place to prevent flooding. Artificial drainage systems utilize pipes and wells to rid wastewater, while natural drainage systems use the land. Specifically, with residential areas and commercial roofing, their drainage systems are considered artificial.

Surface drainage systems remove excess water from the surface of the land through shallow ditches or otherwise known as open drains. These ditches have a parallel pattern, and the discharge from them flows into collector drains. These shallow ditches act as a canal for runoff water to avoid flooding and water pooling. There is an artificial slope created on the field of land to help with the excess water flow toward the drains.

Subsurface drainage systems, also known as french drains, remove excess water at the root level. It removes drainable porosity water from the subsoil. The french drains are beneath the top layer of soil. Subsurface drains are required to have deep open ditches with underground pipes. There are pipe drains called buried pipes that have openings where the soil water enters. Pipe drains transport the water to the collector drain.

Slope drainage systems allow water to flow from the top of a structure down with the aid of pipes moving down a slope. These systems pipes are anchored in small inclines in this system for water to flow freely away. For this system, a regrading technique is ideal in guiding water into the storm sewer.

The gutter and downspout systems run differently than slope drainage systems; however, they share similarities with water flowing downward. Gutter and downspout systems collect water and reroute it to the ground. Downspouts typically are connected with a gutter system on a building, and they can be rectangular or round. The downspouts usually are made with light, flexible material. The water is carried away from the rooftop to the ground. Both of these systems are known for rooftop water.

Since downspouts and gutters coincide with residential, the focus for commercial roofing will be on scuppers and internal drains. In commercial roofing, there are two main forms of drainage systems called gravity and siphonic. These two forms determine whether someone wants their drainage system to work with gravity or without gravity to carry water away. Gravity has all the water flow from differently sloped segments to one interior drain to flow the water off the roof. Siphonic does not rely on gravity. Instead, it uses a fitted tool at the opening of the drain to prevent air from entering. As a result, this causes the interior drain to lower its atmospheric pressure, suck the water in, and allow the water to move freely without a decline. Both of these are options people can consider before implementing a drainage system for their roof.

A scupper acts similar to a gutter because it has a channel or opening in the sidewalls of a roof that allows water to flow freely. However, they differ because gutters travel along the side of a roof, while a scupper has water flow through before connecting to a downspout or gutter to remove water. Internal drains are common in commercial buildings because they have to catch water under the surface of a roof. Typically, internal drains are where water collects the most or where there is a slight downward grade. Therefore, a common location is the center of a roof.

In sum, the drainage systems from residential areas to commercial roofing are imperative to reduce and rid stormwater. The type of drainage system put in place depends on the structure of the home or the needs of the neighborhood storm sewer systems.

When it rains look to a drain

Green Infrastructure vs Gray Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure vs Gray Infrastructure

     A common topic discussed in the world of water is green versus gray infrastructure because they both reduce stormwater runoff. Green and gray use different systems to rid and reroute stormwater runoff from urban environments. The process in how they reduce the stormwater runoff is what differentiates the systems.

    Green infrastructure incorporates engineered systems and the natural environment to harvest, reuse, infiltrate, and reduce the flow of stormwater into the sewer systems and the surface. It allows the stormwater to soak into the ground and filter out the pollutants naturally. Green infrastructure mimics the natural water cycle by retaining or detaining water by using natural areas that provide habitat. Green infrastructure uses rain gardens, infiltration planters, rainwater harvesting systems, permeable pavements, tree boxes, green roofs, and others for clean water and protection. This infrastructure restores and protects the natural water cycle.

     Gray infrastructure is human-engineered infrastructure that has treatment facilities, sewer systems, stormwater systems, or storage basins. Gray infrastructure utilizes engineered systems to direct stormwater from certain locations to another. With these systems, the stormwater will travel through impermeable surfaces like drain pipes to be held in a storage basin during a large rain event or directly to a water reclamation facility for treatment. As water travels through, the systems will remove the pollutants and toxins carried by the stormwater to bring clean water back into the environment. This infrastructure places systems into the ground to remove toxins as water flows through it.

     Overall green and gray infrastructure work to protect the environment by capturing and treating stormwater run-off before it is introduced back into the water cycle. The City of Akron uses both systems to treat water through the Akron Water Supply Plant, green infrastructure sites around the city, storage basins, and the Water Reclamation Facility, bringing clean water to residents in the community.

Green versus Gray

From AASEP to an Internship

From AASSEP to an Internship 

by: Angel Guinn 

 Hello, my name is Angel Guinn. I joined a program called the All Akron Student Engineering Program (AASEP) which was designed to be a program for giving engineering students a glimpse of the engineering profession, which is currently run by Jonathan Simmions. I was selected to intern with a construction company, G. Stephens Inc. My first two weeks at G. Stephens company has been great! My project is to educate an audience about how humans play a part in the water cycle. A lot of my time, in the beginning, was dedicated to research about my topic, to be completely honest, it was all very new to me. Before I started I had never heard of Combined sewer overflow pipes or consent decrees. As I went deeper into the research I really appreciate the work that all of these people did and I was excited to have an impact with them and to add my work to this collection of people. 

   My mentor during this project has been Leah Gillig, Should be checking in and guiding me through the entire project. At the start of the project, Ms. Gillig told me that I could do a PowerPoint or to be more creative when I saw these people's work I thought a PowerPoint could not possibly do it justice. As a result of that, I have a plan to do a video aimed towards kids, to create a fun and interesting way of learning about something that is widely considered boring among younger kids (as my 13-year-old sister has told me) The video will explain the process of the water cycle in a more realistic way by including the processes of the water reclamation plant in the water cycle process. Doing this can really add to what our Akron students know about the water cycle. I am very excited to see it finished and for it to be used with kids and adults alike! 
Img 0271 2

Getting Close to the End

Getting Close to the End

by: Angel Guinn 

Hello! I am sadly now getting to the end of my internship. I have had a lot of fun doing this project and working with Leah Gillig and Elizabeth Holston. The project itself covers the stages of the water cycle including water reclamation plants, combined sewer overflow pipes, consent decrees, and even how old some of the sewers are in Akron. Some of them are 85 years old by the way! However, I have learned a lot from working in this environment is that doing quality work can really make a difference.

     In school a lot of our projects are fast-paced because we only have so much time, an engineering project can have only five days to complete. A complete turn around from the 40 hours with G. Stephens. Seeing what a long term project with an engineering company was like, was all I could have wanted from my engineering classes in the past. I'm really proud of the work I've done and the things I have learned in this program and I'm excited to come back next year and learn even more. As for the project, I hope soon everyone can see it as a finished project soon!

The final video is posted below! 

Don't Make a Splash, Put it in the Trash!

Don’t Make a Splash, Put it in the Trash!

Flushable wipes, flushable kitty litter, flushable diapers, and the list goes on. You may think they have something in common and they do, none of these products are actually flushable!

As people are adhering to the “Stay at home” order issued by Governor Mike DeWine, the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) is seeing an increase in nonflushables being flushed. These nonflushables can wreak havoc on the sewer system, creating clogs and backups in the pipes as well as grating at the Water Reclamation Facility.

There are only a few things that should be flushed, and we have an easy method for remembering them. The 3 P’s. The 3 P’s consist of: pee, poop, and (toilet) paper. And sometimes, but hopefully rarely for most people, the fourth P: puke.

As a side note, human waste and animal waste breaks down differently, so animal waste should be disposed of in trash cans and not the toilet. Toilets are not trash cans.

We realize this is considered a gross subject to talk about, but the information is extremely important to keep the sewer system running, while also protecting the environment from harmful chemicals.

Below is a list of common items that should never be flushed.  This is meant to be a quick reference but know there are so many more!

  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Mini or maxi pads
  • Condoms
  • Tampons and applicators
  • Cleaning wipes of any kind – sanitary, baby, disinfectant
  • Dental floss
  • Disposable diapers
  • Bandages or gauze
  • Automotive fluids
  • Paint, solvents, sealants, or thinners
  • Unused medications
  • Fats, Oils, Grease
  • Flushable kitty litter
  • Fish for a funeral
  • Pet poop
  • Cigarette butts
  • Contact lenses
  • Chemicals of any kind
  • T-shirts or rags
  • Coffee grinds
  • Hair

Keep a waste basket in your bathroom for easy disposal of the items above and more. Do not use your toilet like it is a trash can.

As we all work together to navigate the changes we are all experiencing, it is important to do our part and keep our systems working properly.

It's a Toilet, Not a Trash Can